Hurricane Irene: “one scary big storm…”

As Hurricane Irene heads for the North Carolina coast, US President Barack Obama cuts short his family holiday in Martha’s Vineyard, by a day, warning the public that “All indications point to this being a historic hurricane”.  The Guardian report adds that “Obama’s wife and daughters will travel back as planned on Saturday”.  [Image credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project]

 

The GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene moving through the Bahamas on August 25, 2011 at 1402 UTC (10:02 a.m. EDT) and far to the east was newly born Tropical Depression 10 (far left). Irene dwarfs Tropical Depression 10, and Irene is about 1/3rd the size of the entire U.S. East coast.

As the BBC report notes

States of emergency have been declared in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in parts of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and in the nation’s biggest city, New York.

As the New York Times reports, “officials [have] announced plans to evacuate low-lying areas in New York City and shut down the sprawling subway and transit system.”  Irene is due to reach New York City at 8pm Sunday [local time EDT].

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation — something he said the city had never done before — of coastal areas in Brooklyn; Queens, including all of the Rockaways; and Staten Island, along with Battery Park City and the financial district in Lower Manhattan and Governor’s Island. The evacuation covered 250,000 people who, he said, should get out before the storm swept in.

“You only have to look at the weather maps to understand how big this storm is and how unique it is,” the mayor said at a news conference, “and it’s heading basically for us.”

“If you’re in its way,” he said, “it’s a lot more powerful than any of us.”

Officials said the subway shutdown was prompted mainly by wind calculations that suggested the hurricane could endanger subway cars where they run above ground. The commuter rail lines that serve Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut will also be shut down, as will commuter rail lines — but not buses — in New Jersey.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that a half dozen bridges — including the George Washington Bridge, the Robert F. Kennedy Triboro Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Whitestone Bridge — would be closed if winds reached 60 miles an hour for more than a short time.

Astronauts on the International Space Station have been flying over Hurricane Irene.  Here’s the footage from 24th “as it churned over the Bahamas”.  And below is from yesterday.  Video from NASAtelevision.

 

Cameras mounted on the International Space Station captured new views of Hurricane Irene as it churned across the Bahamas at 3:47 p.m. EDT on August 25, 2011. Irene, which is a massive and powerful category 3 hurricane, is moving north-northwest toward a likely brush with the outer banks of North Carolina Saturday before tracking up the mid-Atlantic states and a possible path over the metropolitan New York area and New England late this weekend.

And via the New York Times blog, The Lede, which is carrying the latest updates on Hurricane Irene, here’s a view of Irene on a global scale.  [Image credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project]

 

Based on this image of the earth, taken from a NASA satellite on Friday at 10:45 a.m. ET, the space agency estimates that Hurricane Irene now has a diameter of about 510 miles, which is almost one-third the length of the U.S. Atlantic coastline.

As “Mike” said in the NasaTV video, that’s “one scary big storm.”

Adds Got to point to the quote in the Boston Herald report from Martha’s Vineyard.

Even for an island accustomed to a frantic August, this week has been unusual: an earthquake, a presidential visit and, now, an impending hurricane.

“The only thing we’re missing is a meteor,” Martell said. “That’s next week.”

Heh.